Pop culture segue

Don’t let the title completely fool you, this entry is a rant, as much as anything else. And don’t think that I’m some sort of pop culture otaku; I’m usually behind the curve when it comes to such things, especially music.

But I seem to consume a fair amount of it anyway, and so here we are.

What do I really have to say about pop culture? Read on…

TV: American Idol

Yes, I’m watching it, yes, you can make fun of me for it.

Overall, I think the finalists this season are really weak, and at least half of them should never have been chosen as finalists in the first place. It’s a freakshow headed up by Sanjaya. Seriously, what were the judges thinking when they chose him for the final 24?

The top three are Melinda, LaKisha, and Blake. My pick to win is Melinda; she’s simply the best of them, and she’s humble about it. I would’ve picked LaKisha earlier on, but she started getting arrogant and too full of herself.

Contestants aside, the show really, really needs to let Paula Abdul go. This season is really bringing home how worthless she is to the show. All she does as a "judge" is simply parrot what the others have said or make pointless comments about how well the contestant has dressed, and her drunken-slash-stoned antics are simply embarrassing. Her time is done. They need to bring in someone who’s not an assclown.

There’s really not much more to be said, other than some snarky comments about some of the others…

  • Haley (who was mercifully eliminated last week) only got as far as she did because of her skimpy, revealing outfits. I’m surprised that even got her as far as it did; she’s simply a terrible singer.
  • Phil—dude, the bald look doesn’t work on you. At all. Combine that with the pale, deathly-ill look you seem to be sporting… let’s just say the initials for the nickname I have for him are "C.P." Plus, he’s a terrible singer also.
  • Chris Sligh—wow, I’ve never seen anyone look like Sideshow Bob in real life before. Except for the weight part.

TV: 24

This season has turned out to be weak. Not as weak as the third season—I’m not sure they can get that low again—but coming off the success of last season, it just doesn’t hold up. Which is too bad, since the premise, previews, and first episode all seemed promising.

But I just can’t buy into the premise that Jack, who was incarcerated and tortured in a Chinese prison for the past (nearly) two years, can walk off the plane and step right into such a physically demanding role and leadership position of CTU as if no time at all had transpired. It should simply be physically impossible.

Also, the season is largely a retread of season two (which was strong, perhaps the strongest of all of them): the threat of nuclear bombs by Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. One even goes off. Jack reappears from an absence to save the day. Nefarious forces at the White House attempt to remove President Palmer from power. Et cetera, et cetera.

TV: Lost

I’ve avoided doing any more extended ranting on "Lost" since last fall, mostly because I don’t want to become a cliché of myself. (Not to say I’m not already, but that’s a different blog entry…) Also because the quality of the season picked up since the terrible first six, but also because I’m getting increasingly frustrated with the series in general.

After last week’s episode, just a few of the things that are bugging me:

  • Why did they neuter Jack? He sucks these days, and he had some of lamest lines ever. "She’s under my protection." What?? Who says stuff like that? Is this some weird reversion to Middle Ages feudal dialect? And the end, when he’s babbling about trusting Juliet, "looked into her eyes" etc.—extraordinarily lame, and I was going to comment that he’s a fool to trust her when sure enough, they cut to the Juliet-as-traitor-betrayer flashback. Jack sucks.
  • Speaking of Juliet, can’t the writers make up their minds about her? They seem to be trying awful hard to make her a sympathetic character to the viewer but then they blow it. We all know she can’t be trusted, ever. So why waste screen time on it?
  • Sayid is the smartest person on the island, and he’s always right. Isn’t it about time (after nearly three seasons) that they start working that angle rather than just ignoring him? They need to kill off a bunch of losers and let Sayid take charge.

Basically, I’m to the point where my suspension of disbelief has come crashing down. While I’ve enjoyed the season more than when it started, I think the producers and writers have dropped the ball big-time and have a convoluted mess that keeps getting compounded with bad writing.

TV (General)

Everyone keeps telling me how I should be watching "Heroes" and "Battlestar Galactica." Apparently those are perfect for the geeky/sci-fi kind of person that I am, and they’re really good. I think I pretty much missed the boat on "Battlestar," but maybe I can catch up on "Heroes" during summer reruns…

Comics: Y: The Last Man

The coolest thing I’ve discovered about the Deschutes Public Library in the last six months is that they have a decent collection of comic trade paperbacks; I’ve been going through and reading comic series that I missed the first time around.

"Y: The Last Man" is one of them—the library has the complete set of trades (though the series is still ongoing). The premise: all the males in the world (technically, all mammals with a Y chromosome) are wiped out in a single day by a mysterious plague. All, that is, but one man and his male capuchin monkey. So it’s a post-apocalyptic type series, following the last man (whose name is "Yorick") as he copes with being the last, and how that fits in with how the remaining women of the world deal with the crisis.

It’s really good, utterly non-superhero, and for mature readers only. The trades are all fairly quick reads, but you’ll want to go back and read them again. Excellent stuff.

Incidentally, the creator and writer of the series, Brian K. Vaughn, was recently hired to be a writer on "Lost."

Comics (General)

"Fables" is a truly excellent comic series, also available in trade paperback form at the library and also an entirely non-superhero premise. In some ways it reminds me of Alan Moore’s beyond-brilliant "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" (not the movie. Never the movie), in that the characters are drawn from the literary (and public domain) world of fable and fiction.

Pretty much any other comics-related stuff I could say I already said here.

Books: Cell

I read Stephen King’s Cell in something like four days. It’s that good and that quick a read. It’s also the kind of book that will make you seriously think about throwing away your cellphone. I won’t go quite that far… yet… but I’m thinking it would be prudent to watch other people to make sure they’re not going crazy on their cellphones before answering mine.

What makes it especially good is that it’s not one of the marathon-length books King often writes; it’s straightforward, fast-paced, well-plotted, suspenseful, and graphic as hell. Some of his tightest writing I’ve read in awhile. I loved it.

It’s basically King’s contribution/foray into the apocalyptic zombie genre. Since I followed it up with the "Y: The Last Man" comics, I guess maybe I’m on an apocalyptic binge… maybe I’ll seek out some zombie novels.

Books (General)

I’ve currently got three books going: Code by Lawrence Lessig (that link’s actually a cheat; I’m linking to the revised edition, because that’s more relevant, but the one I’m reading is the original edition published in 1999), Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things, and Singularity Sky by Charlie Stross.

Code is dense and thoughtful and sometimes a chore to slog through. Extraordinary Origins is light and interesting and parceled out into perfect bite-sized chunks; good stuff for the casual history buff. I’ve just started Singularity Sky this weekend but so far it’s promising; it seems to be a post-modern blend of hard science fiction with space opera with post-Singularity stuff (duh, from the title!).

I keep eyeing my bookshelf, fingering through books I haven’t yet read. Beer brewing books, Vernor Vinge, Patrick O’Brian, Rudy Rucker, Stephen Baxter, Stephen King, some classics… it goes on. A reading binge is imminent now that TV is getting close to winding down, I think. So many books, so little time.

Of course, if I were sticking to the "pop culture" theme with books, that probably means I’d have to stick to mainstream bestsellers. I think the last time I read a mainstream bestseller other than a Stephen King was a few years ago with The Da Vinci Code, which I reviewed. I wasn’t favorable.

Movies

Actually, when it comes to movies, I suck these days. I hardly ever see them in the theater anymore and I’m simply behind on what’s current. What’s worse is that this is a drool-inducing year of movies for me:

  • "300" – which I must make an effort to see while it’s still in the theaters.
  • "Spider-Man 3"
  • "Transformers"
  • "Live Free or Die Hard"
  • "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End"

Those are kind of the "must see" movies on my wishlist. Other movies which would be cool to see but don’t have that urgency include "Grindhouse," "Shrek the Third," "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," "The Simpsons Movie," and "Ocean’s 13."

Yes, they’re all geeky movies and/or sequels. What? Did you think I was gonna go all Pavlov’s Dogs on something like "Georgia Rule" or "Miss Potter"?

Of course, take it all with a grain of salt. I haven’t even seen "Casino Royale" yet. I suck.

Music

What do I know? I mostly listen to the radio and have a handful of CDs (nothing current). If you’re looking for music advice/wisdom/humor/whatever, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

4 thoughts on “Pop culture segue”

  1. OK, first off: Paula Abdul needs to stay on the show, because some weeks she’s better than any of the contestants. Although the producers must have had a talk with her, because she hasn’t gotten too cross-eyed yet.
    Secondly: you gotta see "Blades of Glory." Pure genius from Will Farrel (I know, that’s an oxymoron to some folks). Jon Heder is hilarious, too. The scene of their first competition had me crying. This one makes up for Talledega Nights.
    Thirdly: my new favorite word is assclown.

  2. Okay, sometimes Paula’s lucid. But even then, she just repeats what Randy says and mumbles stuff that’s just irrelevant to, you know, actual *judging.* And the nights where she’s *really* lit up, watch Simon while she talks… he can’t take it, either.

    We saw Talladega(sp?) Nights in San Diego with my brother (on cable). Er, uh, yeah. Had some funny moments, but jeez.

  3. You are spot on with the American Idol run-down. Paula is a joke (and yes, Assclown will be added to my vernacular as well) and the contestants sound like they’re performing at Timbers karaoke night. Sangina, ehem, SanJAYA was painful to listen to last night. Dreadful, as Simon would say in his snotty accent.

    24, though. I love me some 24. True, you have to suspend your disbelief at his miraculous "recovery", but the show itself has hooked me.

    I agree with much of your review of LOST as well. Jack needs to grow a pair, and I liked that Sawyer was going to be the leader for awhile. I want to see Kate and Juliet go at it in a future episode. That would be stellar – a pretty good match-up.

    Yes, you should try out "Heroes" as well. You’d like it. It’s Whitey’s new favorite show. "NOW that they’ve SAVED the CHEEERLeader, they need to save the WORLD!" The teasers alone are comic book headlines in stereo. I can’t believe you’re not sucked in, yet.

    Rent Casino Royale – it’s a great Bond flick. Super-duper action-packed.

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